Arsenal star labelled ‘average’ as Chelsea legend claims ‘fabulous’ Liverpool man is a ‘level above’

Lewis Oldham
Arsenal star compared to Liverpool man
William Saliba and Ibrahima Konate in action for France.

Chelsea legend Marcel Desailly has explained why he thinks he prefers Liverpool star Ibrahima Konate over Arsenal defender William Saliba.

Konate and Saliba have emerged as two of the best young defenders in the Premier League and they are also competing for starts at international level for France.

The two defenders are regulars in the Premier League for Liverpool – who have already won ten points from behind this term – and Arsenal but they are facing fierce competition on the international stage ahead of next year’s European Championships.

Konate started twice for France during the most recent international break, while Saliba missed the games as a result of a toe injury.

Desailly reckons Konate and Bayern Munich’s Dayot Upamecano are currently the leading candidates to start for France, while Saliba is not “above average”.

“Upamecano, and Konate – their association is fabulous,” Desailly told Get French Football News. “And more than that – I think that, individually, they maybe have a level above what we saw with [Raphael] Varane and [Samuel] Umtiti.

“But before they can express their individuality at a very high level, their association needs to be good. Then there is the one at Arsenal too [Saliba] – he hasn’t yet had the game time to adapt to that necessary association.

“I don’t believe his individual qualities to be above average. He’s at a very, very high level but not extraordinary. So before absorbing the international level, he needs to acclimatise to those associations.

“As things stand I don’t know how to associate him with Konate or with Upamecano so that he can excel and develop all the talent that he has in him.”

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Desailly also recently claimed it’s too soon to suggest Saliba is already “the best in the world”.

“I wouldn’t say Saliba is the best in the world yet,” Desailly said in an interview with Gambling Zone last month.

“I believe that Dayot Upamecano and Virgil Van Dijk are above Saliba, even though Van Dijk has dropped a little bit. We do, however, need to give Saliba time. He only arrived two years ago and, back then, nobody knew his name.

“He was never mentioned! Let’s allow him to exercise and practice his craft at the highest level. Saliba has done well and he has the potential, but let’s wait and see what else he can do. The potential is there.”

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